QUEER VOICES

Here Are 21 LGBTQ Celebrity Coming-Out Stories That Shaped 2018

Congrats to Janelle Monáe, Jake Borelli, Josie Totah and more.
From left: Janelle Monáe, Jake Borelli and Josie Totah are among the celebrities to come out publicly as mem
From left: Janelle Monáe, Jake Borelli and Josie Totah are among the celebrities to come out publicly as members of the LGBTQ community in 2018.

In spite of recent social strides, the number of LGBTQ people who say they’ve experienced discrimination on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity appears to be on the rise.

Such figures, of course, only serve as a reminder of the significance of queer visibility, and seeing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer actors, artists and other public figures live authentically remains both empowering and subversive. 

2018 saw some celebrities, including Janelle Monáe, Lucas Hedges and Amandla Stenberg, share their sexualities in interviews with high-profile outlets. Others, like “Grey’s Anatomy” star Jake Borelli and professional golfer Tadd Fujikawa, took a more direct route by using social media to speak about their authentic selves with fans. 

In some cases, they stoked a fair share of controversy, too. Rita Ora revealed she’s been in relationships with women after releasing a song, “Girls,” that many deemed problematic for the LGBTQ community. Jason Mraz was accused of cultural appropriation online after using the Native American term “Two Spirit” to describe his experiences with men and women. 

Below, check out 21 celebrity coming-out stories of 2018. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, each of these famous faces helped drive the global conversation on LGBTQ acceptance by sharing their truths. 

  • Janelle Monáe
    In <a href="https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/janelle-monae-frees-herself-629204/" target="_blank">an April i
    CHRIS DELMAS via Getty Images
    In an April interview with Rolling Stone, Monáe said she identifies with aspects of pansexuality and bisexuality. 

    “Being a queer black woman in America ― someone who has been in relationships with both men and women ― I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker,” the Grammy-nominated singer-actress said. Though she initially identified as bisexual, she said, “Later I read about pansexuality and was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’”

    Read more here.
  • Lucas Hedges
    The "Boy Erased" and "Ben Is Back" star <a href="https://www.vulture.com/2018/09/lucas-hedges-on-the-waverly-gallery.html" ta
    Bravo via Getty Images
    The "Boy Erased" and "Ben Is Back" star told Vulture in a September interview that he “exists on a spectrum” but stopped short of using terms like “straight,” “gay” or “bisexual” to label his sexuality. 

    “In the early stages of my life, some of the people I was most infatuated with were my closest male friends,” he explained. “That was the case through high school, and I think I was always aware that while for the most part I was attracted to women, I existed on a spectrum.”

    Recalling a middle school health class discussion, he added, “I recognize myself as existing on that spectrum: Not totally straight, but also not gay and not necessarily bisexual.”

    Read more here.
  • Josie Totah
    The "Champions" and "Spider-Man: Homecoming" actress opened up about her gender identity for the first time publicly in Augus
    Jerod Harris via Getty Images
    The "Champions" and "Spider-Man: Homecoming" actress opened up about her gender identity for the first time publicly in August, telling fans in a Time magazine essay that she identifies as transgender.

    “I know now, more than ever, that I’m finally ready to take this step toward becoming myself. I’m ready to be free,” wrote Totah, who began her career on the Disney Channel series “Jessie,” where she presented under a different name and identity. “My pronouns are she, her and hers. I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female. And my name is Josie Totah.”

    Read more here.
  • Brendon Urie
    A longtime ally to the LGBTQ community, the Panic! at the Disco singer&nbsp;came out as pansexual in <a href="http://www.pape
    Leon Bennett via Getty Images
    A longtime ally to the LGBTQ community, the Panic! at the Disco singer came out as pansexual in an interview with Paper magazine published in July. 

    “I’m married to a woman and I’m very much in love with her but I’m not opposed to a man because to me, I like a person,” Urie said. “If a person is great, then a person is great. I just like good people, if your heart’s in the right place. I’m definitely attracted to men. It’s just people that I am attracted to.”

    "I guess this is me coming out as pansexual," he added.

    Read more here.
  • Amandla Stenberg
    "The Hunger Games" actress&nbsp;revealed <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/amandla-stenberg-comes-out-as-gay_us_5
    Rodin Eckenroth via Getty Images
    "The Hunger Games" actress revealed she identifies as gay in June as part of a moving conversation with singer/songwriter King Princess in Wonderland magazine

    The star first came out two years ago as bisexual during a Snapchat interview with Teen Vogue. In her Wonderland interview, however, she said she now knows she’s gay ― and the moment she realized her truth, she felt a “profound sense of relief.” 

    “Socialization is a bitch and a half and kept me from understanding and living my truth for a while,” she told Wonderland. “I was so overcome with this profound sense of relief when I realized that I’m gay ― not bi, not pan, but gay ― with a romantic love for women.” 

    Read more here.
  • Jake Borelli
    Life imitated art in November for the &ldquo;Grey&rsquo;s Anatomy&rdquo; star, who <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/en
    Mitch Haaseth via Getty Images
    Life imitated art in November for the “Grey’s Anatomy” star, who spoke publicly about his sexuality for the first time after his character, Dr. Levi Schmitt, enjoyed a same-sex kiss on the show.

    After the kiss aired, Borelli announced in an Instagram post that he is gay. “This is exactly the kind of story I craved as a young gay kid growing up in Ohio," he wrote, "and it blows my mind that I’m able to bring life to Dr. Levi Schmitt as he begins to grapple with his own sexuality this season on 'Grey’s Anatomy.' His vulnerability and courage inspire me every day, and I hope he can do the same for you.”

    The actor later told HuffPost, “I’m in a position right now where I have a platform, and I think it’s really important to be honest and to put myself out there so that other people don’t feel as alone.”

    Read more here.
  • Alyson Stoner
    The&nbsp;&ldquo;Step Up&rdquo; and &ldquo;Cheaper by the Dozen&rdquo; star revealed she&rsquo;s &ldquo;attracted to men, wome
    Axelle/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images
    The “Step Up” and “Cheaper by the Dozen” star revealed she’s “attracted to men, women and people who identify in other ways” in a poignant essay for Teen Vogue.

    In the essay, published in March, Stoner recalled the time she fell in love with a female dance instructor. Reconciling that relationship, however, with her faith was a challenge, she said. 

    Since then, however, she's learned to accept herself for who she is. "I can love people of every gender identity and expression,” she wrote. “It is the soul that captivates me. It is the love we can build and the goodness we can contribute to the world by supporting each other’s best journeys.” 

    Read more here.
  • Tadd Fujikawa
    The professional golfer <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tadd-fujikawa-first-male-pro-golfer-gay_us_5b9992f7e4b0
    Sam Greenwood via Getty Images
    The professional golfer identified himself as gay in an emotional Instagram post on Sept, 10, World Suicide Prevention Day. 

    “I spent way too long pretending, hiding, and hating who I was,” wrote Fujikawa, who is Japanese-American. “I was always afraid of what others would think/say. I’ve struggled with my mental health for many years because of that and it put me in a really bad place. Now I’m standing up for myself and the rest of the LGBTQ community in hopes of being an inspiration and making a difference in someone’s life.” 
     
    The announcement reportedly made him the first male professional golfer to publicly identify as LGBTQ.

    Read more here.
  • Tessa Thompson
    In June, the "Westworld" and "Thor: Ragnarok" actress <a href="https://www.net-a-porter.com/us/en/porter/article-502e16f70e03
    Rebeca Figueiredo Amorim via Getty Images
    In June, the "Westworld" and "Thor: Ragnarok" actress told Porter magazine that she was "attracted to men and also to women."

    "I want everyone else to have that freedom and support that I have from my loved ones,” Thompson said. “But so many people don’t."

    As for her relationship with Janelle Monáe, which has been the subject of media scrutiny for some time, she said simply, “We love each other deeply. We’re so close, we vibrate on the same frequency. If people want to speculate about what we are, that’s OK."

    Read more here.
  • Ronan Farrow
    The journalist <a href="https://www.out.com/news-opinion/2018/4/10/ronan-farrow-comes-out-part-lgbt-community" target="_blank
    Kevin Winter via Getty Images
    The journalist identified himself as "a part of the LGBT community" while being honored by the Point Foundation for his reporting work in April, according to excerpts of the speech published by The Advocate and Billboard

    "Being a part of the LGBT community, which recognized that reporting I was doing early on and elevated it, and has been such a stalwart source of support through the sexual assault reporting I did involving survivors who felt equally invisible — that has been an incredible source of strength for me," he said after being being presented the Point Courage award, according to The Advocate.

    "LGBT people are some of the bravest and most potent change agents and leaders I have encountered," he continued, "and the most forceful defenders of the vulnerable and voiceless, because they know what it’s like to be there."

    Read more here.
  • Abbi Jacobson
    When <a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/04/abbi-jacobson-6-balloons-interview" target="_blank">asked by Vanit
    Matt Winkelmeyer via Getty Images
    When asked by Vanity Fair about her sexuality in April, the "Broad City" co-writer and star said, “I kind of go both ways; I date men and women.”

    Though Jacobson stopped short of using “lesbian,” “bisexual” or other labels, she said she’s open to being approached by prospective suitors, both male and female.

    Her one stipulation? “They have to be funny, doing something they love," she said. 

    Read more here
  • Jason Mraz
    Mraz addressed his sexuality in an interview with <a href="https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/8466019/jason-mraz-
    Tim Mosenfelder via Getty Images
    Mraz addressed his sexuality in an interview with Billboard published in July. 

    “I’ve had experiences with men, even while I was dating the woman who became my wife,” the singer-songwriter told the magazine. 

    “It was like, ‘Wow, does that mean I am gay?’ And my wife laid it out for me. She calls it ‘Two Spirit,’ which is what the Native Americans call someone who can love both man and woman. I really like that,” he added. 

    The Grammy winner's explanation sparked accusations of cultural appropriation. Perhaps he worded it better in 2005, when he described himself as being “bisexually open-minded,” even though he'd “never been in a sexual relationship with a man” at that time.  

    Read more here
  • Garrett Clayton
    The star of Disney&rsquo;s &ldquo;Teen Beach Movie&rdquo; and NBC&rsquo;s &ldquo;Hairspray Live!&rdquo; <a href="https://www.
    Axelle/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images
    The star of Disney’s “Teen Beach Movie” and NBC’s “Hairspray Live!” revealed in a September Instagram post that he’s in a relationship with another man (screenwriter Blake Knight) but stopped short of using terms like “gay” or “bisexual.” 

    Clayton cited his latest film, “Reach,” as having influenced his decision to speak out. The actor played a socially awkward band geek in the movie, which explores teen bullying, suicide and other hot-button issues. 

    “These topics ― not always easy to discuss ― are all close to my heart, and, knowing how serious they are, I wanted to share this with you all,” he wrote in his post. “This film has come from the perspectives of people who care deeply about these issues, and if watching it helps even one person ... then it was all worth it.”

    Read more here.
  • Kevin McHale
    In April, the "Glee" star <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/glee-star-kevin-mchale-comes-out-with-a-little-help-f
    Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
    In April, the "Glee" star made headlines when he described Ariana Grande's hit single "no tears left to cry" as being "gayer" than he is in a tweet. 

    Speaking to entertainment journalist Marc Malkin weeks later, McHale said the remark did, in fact, reflect his identity as a gay man.  

    “If somebody was a big fan and following everything I was doing [on social media], like the people I interact with on Twitter on a daily basis, I think there was zero surprise,” he said. 

    Read more here
  • Rita Ora
    In May, the singer <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rita-ora-girls-reaction_us_5af989c4e4b032b10bfce43d">teamed
    Gotham via Getty Images
    In May, the singer teamed up with Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX for "Girls," which she deemed a “real gender-fluid freedom record.” 

    The song, which many interpreted as Ora’s acknowledgment of her own bisexuality, sparked the ire of a number of prominent LGBTQ artists, who felt it perpetuated stereotypes.

    Ora responded to the controversy with a lengthy statement on Twitter. “Girls,” she wrote, is “an accurate account of a very real and honest experience.”

    “I have had romantic relationships with women and men throughout my life and this is my personal journey,” she said and offered an apology anyone she hurt with the way she expressed herself.

    Read more here.
  • Lee Pace
    The Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actor opened up about his sexuality for the first time publicly, though he opted not to
    VCG via Getty Images
    The Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actor opened up about his sexuality for the first time publicly, though he opted not to use labels, in an interview with W magazine in February. 

    “I’ve dated men. I’ve dated women. I don’t know why anyone would care. I’m an actor and I play roles,” said Pace, who was starring in "Angels in America" on Broadway at the time. He appeared to be taken aback, adding, “To be honest, I don’t know what to say ― I find your question intrusive.”

    Many interpreted Pace's comments as the actor’s reluctant coming out. Days later, he clarified the remarks on Twitter, saying he had been “momentarily at a loss” for words during the interview. 

    "As a member of the queer community, I understand the importance of living openly, being counted, and happily owning who I am," he said. "That’s how I’ve always lived my life."

    Read more here.
  • Cory Michael Smith
    While promoting his film "1985" in March, the "Gotham" star <a href="https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-stirring-aids-drama-be
    Roy Rochlin via Getty Images
    While promoting his film "1985" in March, the "Gotham" star told the Daily Beast that he identifies as queer.

    Speaking about the movie, Smith said he connected to the role of Adrian, a gay man who heads home to Texas for the holidays after being diagnosed with AIDS. 

    "There’s something special about telling a story that feels closer to home,” he said. “I’m from Ohio. I’ve been living here [in New York] for a while, and there are stretches when I don’t see my family often. Going home and that whole charade is very familiar. The first family dinner after a while. Coming out to a family, the fear of that.”

    Read more here.
  • Collin Martin
    The midfielder for Major League Soccer&rsquo;s Minnesota United <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/collin-martin-m
    Shaun Clark via Getty Images
    The midfielder for Major League Soccer’s Minnesota United came out as gay in June, ahead of his team’s planned Pride celebration before a match against FC Dallas.

    “As we celebrate Pride night, I want to thank my teammates for their unconditional support of who I am,” Martin said. “In light of my experience as a professional athlete, I want to take this moment to encourage others who play sports professionally or otherwise to have confidence that sport will welcome them wholeheartedly.”

    He continued, “June is Pride month, and I am proud to be playing for Pride, and to be playing as an out gay man.”

    Read more here.
  • Jeff Rohrer
    CNN
    The former Dallas Cowboys linebacker came out as gay in a New York Times profile published in November and also revealed his plans to marry skin care magnate Joshua Ross.

    “I’ve given at least five people heart attacks with this news,” Rohrer joked. “But for the most part, many of my closest friends, including some of my former teammates with the Cowboys, could not have been more happy and supportive.”

    Rohrer, who tied the knot with Ross on Nov. 18, became the first current or former NFL player known to be in a same-sex marriage.

    Read more here.
  • Jake Choi
    The star of ABC's "Single Parents" said in September that <a href="https://www.advocate.com/television/2018/9/30/single-paren
    ROBYN BECK via Getty Images
    The star of ABC's "Single Parents" said in September that he identifies as fluid

    "Every day I would think, 'What does it mean when I’m talking to a guy and connect with him emotionally with intimate energy?' Maybe it’s not just sexual but it could be," he told Very Good Light, a men's lifestyle site. "Maybe, shit, I’m attracted to everything."

    He continued, "Maybe it’s more feminine or more androgynous. I realized yeah, I’m fluid. It’s not black or white. It’s grey.”

    Read more here
  • Hurley Haywood
    The endurance race-car legend who won the Rolex 24 at Daytona five times publicly came out as gay in <a href="https://autowee
    Hoch Zwei via Getty Images
    The endurance race-car legend who won the Rolex 24 at Daytona five times publicly came out as gay in an interview with Autoweek in February.

    Haywood said he'd been inspired to open up about his sexuality because of an encounter he had with a high school student who was interviewing him for a term paper. At one point in the interview, Haywood said, he began consoling the teen, who said he'd been bullied at school for being gay.

    Haywood later received a phone call from the student's mother, who said he'd helped save her son's life. “Hearing from that mother — well, it was very emotional,” he recalled. “And I thought, if my voice is strong enough to help one kid, it might help two kids, or five or a hundred.” 

    Read more here.
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